Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Improbable Hap-Pens

Down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly looked as if they would be watching the Detroit Red Wings hoist the Cup one more time as Stanley Cup champions. This series turned as the Pens held serve on their home ice and proceeded to win 4 of the next five games against the Wings and became the first team since the 1971 Montreal Canadiens to win the Cup on the road. There were many unsung heroes for the Pens, no more than Max Talbot, who scored the two goals in game 7 to clinch the Cup. Kudos have to be given to Marc-Andre Fleury, who exorcised his demons at the Joe and was solid in net in game 7 with 23 saves, none bigger than the save on Nic Lidstrom with 5 seconds remaining in the game. The Pens got solid play from their supporting cast of players- Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Bill Geurin, and others who stepped up their game in the finals. Sidney Crosby was not the scoring machine many expected, but was incredible in the face off circle and was solid in the defensive zone. Evgeni Malkin won the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP, and his play was certainly elevated as compared to last year's finals. And what can be said about the coaching job of Dan Bylsma? He shepherded this squad through the playoffs by keeping them focused and confident. He knew which buttons to push with this squad, both in their sprint through the last quarter of the regular season and throughout the playoffs. It was apparent the Pens responded to his coaching and translated it to exceptional play on the ice. It was good to see assistant coach Tom Fitzgerald, a former Preds player, rewarded for his efforts behind the bench.

The SCF was an amazing exhibition of hockey, and hopefully will draw more casual fans in to the game. Congratulations to both teams for the effort they put on the ice.

The View picked the Pens in 6. They won it in 7. Even blind hogs do find an acorn every now and then.

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